Johannesburg — The Proteas women’s team is still coming to terms with the disappointment of losing skipper Dane Van Niekerk for the World Cup, but the fact that news of her absence has come so early, will help the players get over it before they head to the tournament.
“It is disappointing not having the captain here, but fortunately everyone else is in good health,” Proteas coach Hilton Moreeng said. It would have been a bitter pill for him and the squad to swallow, ahead of a tournament, where had Van Niekerk been present, South Africa would have been strong contenders to annex that title.
Van Niekerk broke her ankle after she slipped on the floor at home. As a result she won’t play any part in the 50-over World Cup that starts in New Zealand in March. Given her vast experience, both as a player and a leader, Van Niekerk’s absence leaves a hole that will be almost impossible to fill.
However, besides the fact that news of her injury has come early - before the current training camp and the series with West Indies later this month - the Proteas have in recent years grown accustomed to not having Van Niekerk around.
She wasn’t in India last year when Sune Luus led the team to series wins in the ODIs and T20s. Luus was also captain for the home series’ against Pakistan last year, which Van Niekerk missed with a back injury.
The South African selectors didn’t name a captain as 21 players gathered for the training camp ahead of the series against West Indies. For now the focus is on getting everyone in rhythm again four months after their last assignment in the West Indies.
“We’re at a point now, where we are settled as a team,” said Moreeng. “We are looking to ensure we’ve covered everything we need to. These 10 days gives us the opportunity to ensure that is the case.”
Crucially it also provides the opportunity to get re-accustomed to not having Van Niekerk around.
“The West Indies series is very important and we want to do well, but the bigger picture is the World Cup, so there may be a few combinations we could try,” said veteran Mignon du Preez.
As a former captain her role over the next few weeks becomes even more crucial along with other senior players like Chloe Tryon, Marizanne Kapp and Shabnim Ismael.
Momentum Proteas Training Camp Squad:
Anneke Bosch, Tazmin Brits, Trisha Chetty, Nadine de Klerk, Mignon du Preez, Lara Goodall, Shabnim Ismail, Sinalo Jafta, Marizanne Kapp, Ayabonga Khaka, Masabata Klaas, Lizelle Lee, Sune Luus, Nonkululeko Mlaba, Raisibe Ntozakhe, Tumi Sekhukhune Nondumiso Shangase, Andrie Steyn, Chloe Tryon, Delmari Tucker, Laura Wolvaardt
West Indies series schedule:
1st ODI (D/N start: 2pm): South Africa vs West Indies; Imperial Wanderers, 28/1
2nd Women’s ODI (start 10am): South Africa vs West Indies; Imperial Wanderers, 31/1
3rd Women’s ODI (D/N start: 2pm): South Africa vs West Indies; Imperial Wanderers, 03/02
4th Women’s ODI (start: 10am): South Africa vs West Indies; Imperial Wanderers, 06/02